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I have recently learned about Bitcoin and would like to get rich quickly into mining.

I have control of a

  • laptop
  • library full of ancient computers
  • powerful gaming PC
  • cluster of GPUs
  • an old ASIC, I got for three times its worth off eBay
  • a cluster of EC2 servers

My power bill is

  • frightfully expensive
  • dirt cheap
  • subsidized by my neighbors included in rent
  • non-existent, because I produce a power surplus

Is it worth getting started with mining?

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  • 3
    This question has been asked a lot, and is currently being asked frequently again. The above question is meant to serve as a Canonical Question with a broad answer to cover the whole question. It may serve as a lightning rod and duplicate target. Please add more answers to cover points I may not have covered well enough.
    – Murch
    Nov 7, 2015 at 10:56

3 Answers 3

62

Generally, it's not worth your time and effort to mine at home! (Some exceptions may apply.)

Age of ASIC mining

CPU mining has been unprofitable since 2011, GPU mining just slightly later.

Today, ASICs rule mining. The Bitcoin network has more than 1.7 Ehash/s (Oct 2016) now which is 1,700,000,000,000 Mhash/s. Your graphics card will be running full blast to churn out a few hundred Mhash/s, your CPU maybe a few dozen.

With CPU or GPU you will never collect a sufficient balance with a mining pool that you could even get paid out. It's a waste of time, even if you don't pay for power.

Mining has gone big scale

Meanwhile, ASIC mining has gone industrial. Corporations are building mining centers in regions with very cheap power, and filling them with millions of USD worth of ASIC miners. Greater mining power in one hand does have some slight advantages which adds to their more efficient processes.

Finally, ASIC miners have been catching up quickly technologywise: Every few months new chips get announced moving the scale down a few more nm. Currently, we are reaching 16nm technology (Oct 2016), which is already pretty close to the general state of the art. The problem with that is that every step of miniaturization comes with a leap in power efficiency, quickly obsoleting older generations of ASICs. Chances are that your investment will outdate before it pays for itself – even when you are just looking at cost of acquisition and have no cost of power.

Mining profits tend to zero

The mining market tends to reach an equilibrium: While it is very profitable to mine, there is room for investments. The additional mining power increases the difficulty for all which in turn reduces the profitability. When the difficulty rises, it drives out the least cost efficient mining operations, in turn increasing the profitability of the remaining miners. If you're not in a particularly advantageous position, you will be quickly pushed out of the market.

Also see: Why does mining profitability tend towards zero?

If you're not paying for your power, someone else is

Anyway, if you're "not paying for your power", because it's included in rent (e.g. in a dormitory), you're either privatizing profits by socializing costs, i.e. stealing from your neighbors, or you'll be paying for it next year when your landlord increases your rent to cover the higher power bill.

If you produce a power surplus or use the ASIC to replace electric heating, hey, you might be one of that exceptions I mentioned going in.

There might be some altcoins that can still be profitably CPU/GPU mined and traded for Bitcoin thereafter, but I am not sure whether even they are worth it when you factor in your time investment.


If you have understood all of the above, please feel free to check out

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Bitcoin, as the answers imply, is long out of the reach of home miners, however other coins can use all your hardware, e.g. Gridcoin (GRC).

Gridcoin rewards work done on the BOINC platform which is a distributed super-computer. This clearly needs peers with general purpose computing resources, not ASICs which can only perform one task.

Anyone can make a BOINC project. Once the Gridcoin community vote on its inclusion in the 'whitelist', users processing work for the project receive GRC.

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  • @Murch If Bitcoin is out of the reach of a home miner, can a group of home miners form a mining pool whereby Bitcoin is reachable again? May 16, 2018 at 21:23
  • 1
    No. This has already been answered.
    – Ken Sharp
    Aug 18, 2018 at 21:01
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In the ASIC-age, mining Bitcoin at home has become increasingly challenging and is generally not considered cost-effective for most individuals due to the following factors:

Specialized hardware: Bitcoin mining now requires Application-Specific Integrated Circuits (ASICs), specialized hardware designed specifically for mining. For example, popular ASICs such as the Bitmain Antminer series or the MicroBT Whatsminer series are much more efficient and powerful than CPUs or GPUs used in the early days of Bitcoin mining. This increased efficiency means that ASICs dominate the mining landscape, making it hard for home miners to compete.

High electricity costs: ASICs consume a significant amount of electricity. For instance, the Antminer S19 consumes around 3,250 watts per hour. Residential electricity rates are typically higher than those available to large-scale mining operations. High electricity costs can quickly erode any potential profits from mining at home. Suppose your residential electricity cost is $0.12 per kWh, and you run an Antminer S19 for a month (30 days). The electricity cost alone would be around $280.8 (($0.12/kWh * 3.25kW) * 24h * 30 days), not including cooling and other related expenses.

Initial investment: The upfront cost of purchasing ASICs can be quite high. For example, an Antminer S19 may cost around $7,000 to $10,000. It might take a considerable amount of time to recoup the initial investment, especially when considering increasing mining difficulty and electricity costs.

Heat and noise: ASICs generate a significant amount of heat and noise. For instance, the noise level of an Antminer S19 is about 75 dB, similar to a vacuum cleaner. This can be disruptive and require additional cooling solutions in a residential setting.

Network difficulty: As more miners join the network and more powerful ASICs are developed, the mining difficulty increases, making it harder for individual miners to mine Bitcoin profitably.

Given these factors, mining Bitcoin at home is generally not recommended for most people. Instead, individuals interested in mining might consider alternative options, such as:

Mining alternative cryptocurrencies: Some newer cryptocurrencies can still be mined using GPUs or less expensive ASICs, potentially offering better returns for home miners. For example, mining Ethereum or Monero with GPUs might yield better results compared to Bitcoin mining.

Joining a mining pool: Combining resources with other miners in a mining pool, such as Slush Pool or F2Pool, can help distribute the mining reward and increase the chances of earning Bitcoin, albeit in smaller amounts.

Investing in cloud mining: Cloud mining services, such as Genesis Mining or Hashflare, allow users to rent mining power from a provider that operates large-scale mining farms. However, it's essential to carefully research and select a reputable provider, as there are many scams in this space.

Investing directly in Bitcoin: Rather than mining Bitcoin, individuals might consider directly investing in the cryptocurrency by purchasing it on an exchange, potentially benefiting from long-term price appreciation.

Considering opportunity costs, the time, effort, and resources spent on setting up and maintaining a home mining operation might be better invested in other income-generating activities or investments, such as purchasing and holding Bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies, investing in stocks or real estate, or starting a business.

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